Twenty Thousand League Tables Under the Sea

For those not as engrossed in Sussex student life as I am, click here to skip past it.

Desiring seclusion from the real world, enigmatic Vice-Chancellor Nemo builds the specatcular Sussexus and roams the seas seeking to destroy other universities. But he’s rarely been successful, as shown by his craft’s recent assessments in the Independent league table (dropped 2 places), the Times (dropped 4), this week’s Times Higher Education World Rankings (dropped 11, losing a seat in the top 100), the Guardian (dropped 16) and the Sunday Times (dropped 18).

The university flag would have been flying at half mast this Sunday, but because everyone was a bit confused about what day is Sunday now, it never really happened.

And now for a song:

Just remember that you’re going to a uni that’s descending,
An unending drop of 50 points per year.
It’s as if they think the race is, who can drop so many places
While also making sure to be austere.
It’s based on student satisfaction, academic interaction:
It’s a mystery how any uni climbs.
Costing £3,000 a term while trying to profiteer
So we dropped 18 points in the ‘Sunday Times’.

Our Vice-Chancellor himself earns just £200,000,
But he does it out of duty, not for cash.
There are 13,000 students all accumalating debt
But on the Plus side they can access Sussex SPLASH.
And while the system’s never right ’cos IT Services are really quite poor,
It gives the management a chance to preen!
Which makes it just that little bit more difficult to see
How the ‘Guardian’ reduced us by 16.

The University keeps on expanding and expanding,
The student-to-staff ratio on the rise.
It’s bewildering that they gave the Business School a brand new building:
Just goes to show the favours that some foreign money buys.
So remember when you’re looking on your UCAS form next year
And staring at the record of our fall…
Don’t pay too much attention if the verdict is severe
’Cos the ‘Independent’ knows really very little indeed.

A distraught V-C commented, “I don’t know what more I could have done to salvage Sussex’s reputation: I’ve privatised hundreds of staff. I’ve relegated an important department to a Nissen hut. I’ve banned student meetings. I put 110% into improving the calibre of the Maths faculty, and this is the thanks I get.”

For he’s a jolly good fellow, and so say Goldman Sachs

The former head of HM Revenue & Customs, Dave Hartnett – star in a video which was once voted the most boring on YouTube, ahead of a 10-minute clip of paint drying – was a keynote speaker at a recent conference on “tax planning” (ie. avoidance) held at Oxford University.

When some protestors gatecrashed proceedings with a video camera, the snooty chairman issued them with a particularly nasty threat in a voice so dripping with contempt that it gives me something to aspire to.

Turning to other scum now, Vodafone have texted all their customers to explain that they are (unilaterally) increasing the price of our contracts that we signed with them, because “like most businesses in the UK, our costs are rising.” Though one assumes that these rising costs don’t include the payment of tax, and do include the payment of, erm, the company’s tax planners.

I’d naively assumed that a ‘mobile contract’ involved both parties sticking to the deal, but I now see the error of my ways and have texted Vodafone to let them know that I’m (unilaterally) doubling the number of included minutes with which they have to provide me. And I’m sure that in a spirit of goodwill, give-and-take and not creating a “significant imbalance” in our relationship, they’ll be fine with that. Won’t they?

On a more serious note, if you’re a Vodafone customer, this price hike will also have affected you. If you’re as cheesed off as I am, ‘Which?’ are campaigning against these unfair practices and you can pledge your support here.

Dinner with despots

Turning to other scum now, my public outrage at the Board of Deputies’ decision to have a totalitarian dictator as speaker at ‘our’ Annual Dinner clearly hasn’t deterred them from inviting me: and “at a discounted cost” too! The ‘discounted’ rate is £150 – so marginally more expensive than the student deals offered by Domino’s Pizza, say. (Seriously, the Board knows I’m a student, representing a student organisation: why would they even bother trying to charge me so much?)

The RSVP card enables me to indicate either, “I would like ___ tickets, cheque enclosed,” or, “I regret that we cannot join you but would like to make a donation of £___.” What absolute chutzpah: the only thing worse than paying £150 to eat a meal with an autocrat is paying money and not even getting the meal!

Oh, and the invitation rather unwisely boasted, “The Dinner has become a notable event in the community’s calendar, with recent special guests including Nelson Mandela.” Bloody hell, it’s gone downhill.

Send-off from Somaliland: keeping people in suspense

The Somaliland Press was up in arms this week when four MPs were suspended for failing to turn up to a sitting of parliament. But naturally, they said it in rather more colourful language than wot I just did:

Four members of parliament who include one of the only two lady legislatures (Shurely ‘legislators’? -Ed.) have been defrocked of their honours and membership of the august House. The now former honourables have been purged from being part and parcel of the legislature team.

One of the MPs was claiming for a second hut in which he kept his hostages.

Could they have fitted in any more needless idioms? I guess they could cram them in until the cows come home, until there’s no room left to swing a cat. But they’d have to be round the bend to do something like that.

Anyway, as failed states, Somaliland and close neighbour Somalia offer very little in the way of leisure activities. So what could all these politicians be doing when bunking off work? When my African correspondent made enquiries to one former MP, he was simply told, “Avast ye landlubber!” while the MP’s companion commented, “Pretty polly. Pieces of eight!” So basically I still have no idea.

Sussexballs: £9000 per annum paid for contributions

[computer breaks] “This is so retarded! I apologise, I am not very PC. Political correctness is the affectation of the bourgeois and I don’t believe in that. It’s just offending each other with fancier words.”

“It is so ridiculous that the week starts on Thursday now. You’d have though they’d learn their lessons from the calendar conundrums of the French Revolution.”

“Any comments for the presenters?” / “Erm… I liked Doran’s points.” / “‘I liked’ is not a comment! We are not on Facebook. What and why? […] Excuse me, I have an announcement. We are at a university!”

And now for something that’s not altogether different
In tonight’s episode, Vice-Chancellor Nemo was played by Professor Michael Farthing and his wife Penny. Coldean Primary School owes everything to its dinnerlady. The song was written by the Monty Python gang with lyrics by Gabriel Webber. The snooty chairman was played by Robert Venables QC and the dogs were played by Sweep, K-9 and Jumble. The moneygrabbing sods were played by Vodafone. This was an Gabrielquotes production.


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